Periodic Table of Spices

When I moved away to college, my roommates all thought it was weird that I brought along a box of cooking spices stored in pimento jars, just like at my parents’ house. Doesn’t everyone have spices? I’m a decent cook, though I’ve never really been all that into food. I mean, I love any permutation of burrito and taco ingredients, and I’m pretty into Thai and Italian food. But usually food is just something I’m eating to stay alive. That being said, I still like it to taste good!

There are a lot of spices, and I won’t pretend to know how to use them all, but I thought that arranging them into a periodic table might help. I organized the spices into groups based on the countries/regions in which they are typically used. The trick is, plenty of spices are part of more than one group. For example, oregano is a common Italian spice, but also used in Latin American cooking. So I arranged the spices in the table in such a way that each spice was touching all groups that it was a part of, and the groups were color coded. The idea was to be able to use the table to explore and experiment with using spices while cooking- if I want to make a stir fry, I can glance at the table and easily find all the purple spices, indicating they are commonly used in Chinese food…and just try them out! On the far right of the table are the Noble Spices, things like salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder that are used in tons of stuff. All around, I figured it would make cooking 100% more fun and 100% more nerdy 🙂 I’ll put up the spice groups when I can find where I put the list.

I used food-grade containers I found online, and glued magnets to the back so I could mount them on a magnetic white board (also useful to have in the kitchen). I love this thing- sadly it doesn’t fit in my current kitchen but we still keep all the spices in their labeled containers. I really wanted to sell this idea at one point, but I never had time to figure out how to go about bringing a product to market. I think it would be a really fun and nerdy thing other might enjoy. It’d go great with a book on the chemistry of cooking. Maybe one day!